Three years ago today Lane Kiffin was fired on an airport tarmac
At 1-3, USC is in the midst of another disappointing season, which could lead to another coaching change at the end of the season. For those scoring at home, that would be six separate changes at the head coaching position — SIX!!! — since the beginning of the 2013 season.
Of course if you want to point to one moment where all this chaos began, the best place to start is three years ago today. It was on September 29th, 2013,that former Trojans' AD Pat Haden made one of the most dramatic moves in college football history — when he fired Lane Kiffin at 3:14 a.m. on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport following a loss to Arizona State.
The move was obviously one of the most unforgettable in college football history, but is worth remembering here three years later.
For those who've forgotten details, here is a quick recap: After a 10-2 season in 2011, USC stumbled in 2012, finishing the year at 7-6, after starting it ranked No. 1 in the country. Many Trojans fans wanted Kiffin gone after that season, but instead, he remained. The reprieve did Kiffin little good, as USC struggled to start the year, losing in Week 2 to Washington State at home. Week 4 produced a narrow 17-14 victory over Utah State, which set up the climatic final night, when the Trojans gave up 63 points to Arizona State, setting up Haden's fateful decision.
Kiffin was gone at 3:14 a.m. officially, and while no one knew it at the time, it would set up a cataclysmic chain of events which USC is still recovering from today.
For those scoring at home, Ed Orgeron replaced Kiffin, and when the full-time job wasn't given to Orgeron at the end of the year, Clay Helton coached the team in a bowl game. Steve Sarkisian took over from there, and less than two seasons later, Helton took over as interim again after Sark was fired. Helton was hired as the full-time head coach last winter.
As for Kiffin? Well, as it turned out, he got the last laugh.
As Alabama's offensive coordinator, he won a national championship last year, and then opened up this season by putting up 52 points on his former team. By the way, those 52 points were the most the Trojans allowed, since they gave up 63 to Arizona State in 2013… Kiffin's final game.
Oh, and in case you were looking for one final dagger, Kiffin delivered it that next morning, with a tweet for the ages.
It might not have been good to be Lane Kiffin on September 29th, 2013. But it sure is three years later.
Post game w the game ball!!! #3:14AM-LAX pic.twitter.com/cxQkJ89254
— Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin) September 4, 2016